• Methods for protecting England’s coastal communities “not fit for purpose”

    In October 2018, a stark report suggested that current methods being used to protect England’s coastal communities are “not fit for purpose.” The Committee on Climate Change’s Managing the coast in a changing climate report showed that between 2005 and 2014, over 15,000 new buildings were built in coastal areas at significant risk of coastal flooding and/or erosion. Experts say that evidence suggests there should be far stricter controls on coastal developments.

  • After the next Big One: How will San Francisco’s skyscrapers fare?

    When Stanford civil engineers look at San Francisco’s skyline, they wonder: Will the city be ready if a major earthquake shakes those skyscrapers? It’s not primarily a question of whether all the towers will remain standing, though there are some concerns about the ones built more than 30 years ago. The more complicated question is this: If one or more high-rises suffers serious damage, how badly could that disrupt the rest of the city?

  • Bolstering resilience to withstand floods

    Historically, flooding is the most destructive natural disaster in this country. Facing this ever-growing threat, many wonder, “What can be done to protect life and property, reduce insurance claims, as well as help communities become more resilient?” DHS S&T has initiated multiple projects across the nation through its Flood Apex Program to offer an answer to this question.

  • Protecting the national electrical grid from space weather

    It’s not often geology and national security wind up in the same sentence. Most people don’t think about electrical power in connection to either the ground under their feet or solar flares overhead, but one researcher says that connection presents a clear and present risk that power utilities need to consider.

  • Safeguarding the U.S. energy infrastructure

    Nearly every aspect of our daily lives — from shopping for groceries through a smartphone app to keeping up with friends and family on social media, or relying on smart grid technology to power homes and businesses – is connected to the vast world of the internet. Because of this, it might seem as if there’s nothing we can do to protect ourselves from a cyberattack. Experts disagree. “Even though computer systems are complex, the network-connected physical components that operate the power grid – such as the transformers, tap changers, and power inverters, for example – have characteristics about their operation that may make cybersecurity more tractable. Specifically, these physical components obey the laws of physics,” says LBL’s Sean Peisert.

  • The Hayward Fault -- is it due for a repeat of the powerful 1868 earthquake?

    On October 21, 1868, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay area. Although the region was sparsely populated, the quake on the Hayward Fault was one of the most destructive in California’s history. The 150th anniversary of the 1868 earthquake, and all historical earthquake anniversaries, are opportunities to remind people that we live in earthquake country and we should all be prepared for the next big quake.

  • World heritage sites under threat from climate change

    UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Mediterranean such as Venice, the Piazza del Duomo, Pisa, and the Medieval City of Rhodes are under threat of coastal erosion and flooding due to rising sea levels. The authors have identified areas with urgent need for adaptation planning and suggest the iconic nature of such sites can be used to promote awareness of the need to take action to mitigate climate change.

  • After historic Texas flooding, officials will likely open more floodgates on Central Texas dam

    Across Central Texas and the Hill Country, heavy rain has led to catastrophic flooding in the past week. With more rainfall in the forecast, state and local officials are working to manage floodwaters before they move downstream. After the wettest September in Texas history, multiple Central Texas reservoirs are completely full. That has forced officials to consider releasing a historic amount of water down the Colorado River.

  • More than 1,000 stakeholders join N.Y.-N.J. Metropolitan Resilience Network

    An innovative program, the Metropolitan Resilience Network (MRN), now has over 1,000 credentialed stakeholders from hundreds of public and private organizations in the New York metro area. MRN members are connected and collaborating on shared threats to the region through a unique technology platform as well as a wider spectrum of activities.

  • Why doesn’t the U.S. bury its power lines?

    It is nearing the end of a highly destructive hurricane season in the United States. The devastation of Hurricane Florence in North and South Carolina caused more than 1.4 million customers to lose power and Hurricane Michael has cut service to an estimated 900,000 customers in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Soon, winter storms will bring wind and snow to much of the country. When it comes to electricity, people turn their attention to the power lines overhead and wonder if their electricity service might be more secure if those lines were buried underground. But having studied this question for utilities and regulators, I can say the answer is not that straightforward. Burying power lines, also called undergrounding, is expensive, requires the involvement of many stakeholders and might not solve the problem at all.

  • Florida Panhandle counties less prepared for emergency than rest of state

    found that the vast majority of counties in the Florida Panhandle were less prepared for emergency evacuation compared to the rest of the state. Of the 67 counties in Florida, 10 were rated as having weak levels of evacuation preparedness, and all of these counties were located in the Panhandle/North Florida. Eleven of 16 counties with moderately rated plans also were in this region. Only seven of the counties in the Panhandle had strong plans.

  • DHS unveils new strategy to deal with EMP threats

    DHS earlier this week announced the release of department’s new strategy to prepare for and recover from EMP and GMD incidents – whether naturally occurring or intentional. Electromagnetic incidents, caused by either an intentional EMP attack or naturally occurring GMD events, are unlikely, but they could cause serious damage to the U.S critical infrastructure.

  • Hurricane Michael damage could be worst in decades: Florida governor

    Hurricane Michael is intensifying into a Category 4 storm as it speeds toward Panama City on the Florida Panhandle. Heavy rains and strong winds have started after tens of thousands of residents evacuated. Experts had been warning residents to evacuate – but at about 11:00 am Wednesday, Florida authorities said that those residents who had not yet evacuated should barricade themselves in their homes. Falling trees, collapsed powerlines, and rising water would likely strand residents on the road if they left their homes now, so they would be safer staying put.

  • Civil engineering professor urges Midwest tornado preparation

    Researchers rely on a pair of analytical observations more commonly invoked in fields such as cognitive psychology, economics or political science — prospect theory and game theory — to make Tornado Alley safer. The unofficial geographic designation encompasses Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and other parts of the central United States.

  • Dealing with critical risks from climate change beyond adaptation and mitigation limits

    This year has brought new temperature records in Africa and Asia, the hottest European summer in recent history, with associated droughts, and forest fires as far north as the Arctic Circle, severe flooding in India and Bangladesh, and massive cyclone damage in Fiji, the Philippines and China. Research has shown that the frequency and severity of extreme weather and climate-related hazards is likely to increase as a result of anthropogenic climate change. Climate mitigation and adaptation will increasingly not be enough to manage the effects from such hazards, and experts now call for a climate policy mechanism designed to manage climate-related losses and damages in particularly vulnerable countries.